Sunday, November 6, 2011

Carrot Cake Cookies

Just in time for the holiday baking season, several new cookie books have hit the cookbook scene. I received a review copy of one of these recently, Cookies at Home With The Culinary Institute of America by Todd Knaster (Wiley, 2011; $34.99). It’s the latest in 

the CIA’s ‘At Home’ series, which features recipes for the home cook. It’s a big, beautiful book, filled with lots of full-page color photos and almost 100 recipes. The recipes lean toward the home-spun – nothing too complex here – but many of the cookies feature 

intriguing flavor combination (i.e. Pistachio Orange Biscotti and Sweet Potato-Pecan Pie Bars). The book includes all the classics, and even has a savory cookie chapter, which includes recipes such as Parmsan Taralles and Jalapeno Cheddar Zaliti. After flipping 

through the book a few times, I kept coming back to one recipe, though: Carrot Cake Cookies. What a great idea! These oatmeal-based cookies are loaded with all the goodies that are found in carrot cake – grated carrots, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon. There’s 

even some coconut thrown in for good measure. The cookies are sandwiched together with a lush and glossy cream cheese frosting, the icing on the proverbial cake. Or cookie. These cookies are quite delish, and may just be the star in your holiday cookie assortment this year.

Carrot Cake Cookies
Adapted from Cookies at Home With The Culinary Institute of America by Todd Knaster

Makes 2 dozen cookies

½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup (217 g) packed light brown sugar
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup (81 g) old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 cup (125 g) sweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ cups (155 g) grated carrots
1 cup (144 g) raisins
¾ cup (70 g) chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (115 g) confectioners’sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Make the cookies:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, gently blend the butter, sugars, salt and vanilla on low speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
3. Stir the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add to the creamed mixture all at once and mix on low speed just until combined.
4. Stir in the oats, coconut, carrots, raisins and walnuts by hand. Chill the dough until firm, at least 30 minutes.
5. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
6. Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets using a #40 scoop and spacing them about 1 ½ inches apart.
7. Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.
8. Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheets then transfer, using a spatula, to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting:
9. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
10. Add the vanilla, salt and lemon zest and mix to combine.

Assemble the cookies
11. Use an offset spatula to spread a few tablespoons of frosting on half of the cooled cookies, then sandwich the cookies together.